SmokeLong Quarterly
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by Glenn Shaheen

art by Carrie Wells
art by Carrie Wells
The other day I was running at a track that loops around the private university in town. I've been trying to keep my heart rate in optimal range. This woman in front of me was running while pushing her baby in one of those running carriages. Her baby threw its pacifier out of the carriage and it landed on the ground in front of me. I almost picked it up, but I would've had to stop, and I was at my optimal heart rate. Plus, what if she got crazy about some stranger germing up her kid's pacifier. I ran by. I have been getting stronger and faster. When running I try to keep my breathing steady because somebody once told me we each have a certain number of breaths allotted to us from birth. Sure, it's dumb, but we can't help the traps we fall into. I run four times a week. On one side of the university there are lush trees and rows of McMansions. On the other side they are building many towering hospitals. Giant cranes frame the sky. A worker fell to his death from one on a day I don't run. Each crane hovers over the skeletal beginnings of hospitals designed by architects to look organic and welcoming. When I see a pigeon dart out in front of me while I run I am still astonished by the beautiful and intricate patterns on its back, and these are just the birds we all call sky rats.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2015 by its authors.

Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collection Predatory (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), and the flash collection Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, forthcoming). He was born in Halifax and now lives in Michigan where he is poetry editor for Third Coast and serves on the board of the Radius of Arab-American Writers, Inc. Individual pieces have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and elsewhere.

Carrie Wells is an Austin-based artist working in photography. Rather than identifying herself as a photographer, though, she sees the camera more as a tool for creating compositions. Her images are largely based in the abstract and are motivated by color, texture, and light. They are sometimes studies of surfaces, other times subverting objects in a new, sculptural context. She is interested in examining spaces and things that have long been overlooked, reconsidering their integrity and purpose. Her work deals with issues of reverence, dysfunction, and loss, and the emotional exchange that takes place in the visual conversation.
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